There are diverging traditions in the bible, like the two stories of Judas death

There are many cases where multiple traditions are interwoven in the Bible. Sometimes we know why these developed, other times, we can only guess.

One example of diverging traditions is the death of Judas, which has two different biblical accounts or traditions that cannot be fully reconciled. While some have tried to reconcile it (indeed one can find many conservative Christian pastors focus on one of the many differing elements of the story, the death itself, and try to hypothesize how a person can both hang himself, and die by falling head first, at the same time) yet most scholars generally agree these are different accounts. This discrepancy is acknowledged by academics from all traditions (Catholic, Evangelical, Protestant, & Secular), see below.

judas death bible contradiction

Kim Paffenroth, Catholic scholar:

“The actual details of the two accounts are irreconcilable. This difference in content creates quite a different meaning for Judas’s death in Acts. Luke’s version of Judas’s death does not include the poignancy (or notability) of suicide (as in Matthew), but rather portrays the death as the kind that should (or must?) happen to wicked people. He shows an interest in relating the death more graphically and grotesquely when he adds the detail that “all his bowels gushed out.” (1)

Bart Ehrman, secular scholar:

“According to Matthews Gospel, Judas hanged himself, and that after his death the chief priests used the betrayed money to purchase a field in which to bury strangers in Jerusalem. They called it the Field of Blood, because it was purchased with “blood money.” The book of Acts has a different account of Judas’s death and its relationship to this field. It is probably impossible to reconcile the details of these two accounts.” (2)

Craig A. Evans, Darrell Bock, Andreas J. Köstenberge, Conservative evangelical scholars:

“The two accounts appear to be independent traditions. A point often overlooked is that the existence of two distinct traditions suggests that Judas’ scandalous death was a widely known fact in the early church. Clearly we are not certain of all the details given the differences between Luke and Matthew.”  (3)



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